So you’re having a baby

Congratulations! Oh, sorry, did I shout a little bit too loudly? I’m wearing ear plugs to drown out the sound of the white-noise machine I’ve been playing to try to help my own baby go to sleep. It’s a great little invention, except that it puts me to sleep, too, and when my baby is napping is the only time I can seem to grab a shower. So it’s shower or sleep. That’s what my priorities have come down to. I chose “sleep” too many days in a row, so here I am, chucking my daggy nursing bra into the hamper and stepping into the glorious warmth of the shower, alone. Alone at last! Except the shower spray kind of sounds like the white noise machine… I wonder what it would be like if I just closed my eyes and leaned my head against the shower wall and zzzzz…

What’s that? I hear crying! It’s so weird, but every time I step into the shower, I swear I can hear the baby crying. Let me just rush over to the baby’s room, dripping wet all over the carpet, without properly rinsing the shampoo from my hair, and listen at the door. Nothing. Nothing at all. The baby isn’t crying. I’m hearing things again.

I’m also smelling something. Yep, through the closed bedroom door where the baby is sleeping peacefully, I can smell that she’s got a dirty nappy. Oh, you thought “pregnancy nose” would go away once the baby arrived? Nope. It’s here to stay, and unfortunately it seems to work best when there are gross, poo nappies to be smelled. Trust me, no one else in the house can smell it from the letterbox, but you can. This means that unless you pretend you can’t smell that dirty nappy, you’ll be stuck changing Every. Single. One. Because everyone else (I’m looking at you, Husband and Father of Said Smelly Baby) will say they couldn’t smell a thing.

Now I’m faced with a choice. Do I attempt to change the baby’s nappy now, while she’s asleep, and risk waking her up and cutting short both her much-needed nap and my much-needed shower? Or do I leave her to stew in her own filth for another hour, risking nappy rash and seepage through her delicious little bodysuit? These are the kinds of questions that occupy my day, and believe me, there are no easy answers.

While I’ve been standing here in a soap-bubbly puddle, listening to my baby not cry, smelling the nappy I’m going to have to change eventually, the shampoo has been running down my face and is now making my eyes smart. “&%$#@!” I say to myself, perhaps a bit loudly, because it stings, and also I forgot a towel so I’m getting cold. From behind the door of my baby’s room, I can hear a whimper. “Oh, double &%$#@!” I say, even louder. Now the baby really is crying.

I’m running back to the shower because I have GOT to rinse the soap out of my eyes before I do permanent damage, and I can definitely hear the baby crying this time. And crying. And crying. Suddenly the shower spray isn’t so much “white noise” as “thundering waterfall” and I’m in a desperate hurry to get out. This time, I remember a towel. I slip-slide back down the hall to the baby’s room, thinking, “At least my hair is clean.” Open door. A WALL OF POO SMELL hits me as all the air from inside the room rushes out, seeking fresher accommodations.

“Hello, baby!” I chirp, trying not to gag, and reach into the cot. My towel, which wasn’t tucked securely to begin with, falls off and suddenly my crying baby is face-to-face with her food source, which is much less, ahem, restrained than it usually is. It must be like looking at a buffet table and not knowing where to start. Suddenly she’s very interested in having a feed. So now I’ve got to decide: Do I change her first, or feed her and sit here in the fumes from her bottom?

Welcome to parenthood, friend. I wish I could chat longer, but I’m putting a clothes peg on my nose, and I need my mouth to breathe, not talk. Give me a call in a few months — maybe by then I’ll have figured out the secret to having an uninterrupted shower and a proper sleep.

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BUMP & baby is New Zealand’s only magazine for pregnancy and early babyhood. Our team of mums and mums-to-be understand what it’s like to be pregnant in this connected age, and that’s why BUMP & Baby online is geared toward what pregnant women and new mums really want to know.

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